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Sacred sights and services tour 11-23 October 2015

On this tour sponsored by the TOS Australia, you will not only look at major sights in Cambodia, you will also see charities sponsored by the TOS Sunshine Coast and pay a unique visit to an authentic and remote Khmer village. Read what Kaz Shakespeare, an active Sunshine Coast TOS member who volunteers at ‘Jimmy’s school’ in Siem Reap, has to say about the school and the village.


An English class at Jimmy’s evening school

“As a habitual traveller to Cambodia, l have been blessed with the great fortune of meeting and becoming good friends with a young Khmer man named Jimmy. He works as a tuk-tuk driver and every evening he opens up his family's home to teach English to the local children. His English is excellent due to sponsorship by an Australian couple. Whenever Im in Cambodia I enjoy helping him. The children are so dedicated to their education. All of them understand the incredible opportunity Jimmy is offering them for free. He tells them that English is the torch that will lead them out of poverty.


“He invites Westerners to attend and join in conversational English so that the children become more confident in speaking. As a result, the tourists become acquainted with and appreciative of the lives of young Cambodians.


“Jimmy will take our group to a remote village that is without the basic luxuries of soap and medication. Through the generous donations of the Sunshine Coast TOS, l am the one that feels their gratitude and experiences the overwhelming joy of giving. There are 30-50 families in the village. They are very isolated and extremely poor, like 80% of rural Cambodia. Most have never been to the nearest main town of Siem Reap. They have neither the means nor the desire.


“They never know when Jimmy is going to pay them a visit. There is no electricity but even without technology, word travels quickly and we are greeted with a gathering of eager smiles. We always take enough food for a party of noodles and baguettes. It's like Christmas for they mostly live on a plain diet of rice and vegetables. Jimmy is like Santa. Everyone knows they will receive something to take home. One day we bought a $1.50 bag of elastic bands. The children immediately sat down in small groups and weaved the bands into skipping ropes. Balls are always a huge hit with these toy-deprived kids.


“Medication is always the main priority and parents politely hold their hands out to receive small amounts of painkillers, antiseptic, bandages, etc.


“The most popular gift is soap. Lack of clean water exacerbates their health problems so soap offers some hope in their attempt for hygiene and keeping their skin clean from infections.


“There are no medical facilities and most villagers do not have the means to get to town. A young lady there lost her leg from a land mine about 20 years ago and wears a prosthetic leg. She had mentioned to Jimmy that her prosthetic leg was broken. When we questioned her through Jimmy about how much it would cost to get a new leg, she told us it was free from the hospital. When we asked why she didn’t go, she explained that she had no money to get there. Between the volunteers, we gave her the $15 to travel the five hours there and back. Her relief and her lovely smile were priceless.


“I give gratitude to my good friend Jimmy and others like him, who have so little themselves but work so hard to help others. He says, ‘l give not because l have a lot, but because l know what it is to have nothing’.”


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